Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Washington Times Story on 'Saudi Report'

Sharon Behn of the Washington Times comes out today with an interesting story about how much the Saudis are worried about Iran's influence in Iraq. The story cites a report by Nawaf Obaid on the issue, but says "The report, submitted to the Saudi government in March, has not been publicly distributed."

That is not correct: a version of Obaid's report was carried "exclusively" by the Lebanese daily, Annahar, on December 4, 2006. The Annahar story identified Obeid as the author of a report called 'A Shi'a Crescent and a Shi'a Revival: Myths and Facts' but gave no specific publication date. Obeid concludes that the Shi'a resurgence, although worrying, cannot overturn the Sunni Arab order and hence the threat is overblown. The Annahar version had a full page spread of statistics on the numbers of Shi'as worldwide, and interestingly, gave the ratio of 3:2 (2,221,571 Shi'as vs. 1,332,943 Sunnis) for the Shi'a/Sunni sectarian numbers specific to Lebanon, and sourcing these numbers to the Lebanese government.